Faculty Meetings with Rudolf Steiner
11 September 1921, Stuttgart
Dr. Steiner: School begins on the thirteenth. Now that we have more teachers, we need to discuss the classes again. Do you have a plan here? We could go according to that.
A final decision is made about who will be the main teacher for each class.
Dr. Steiner: The first thing we need to talk about is the remedial class. We definitely need it, but the question is, who can do it? I would be happy if Dr. Schubert could take over the remedial class. Don’t you think you would just die if you could no longer have your old class?
Dr. Schubert: Did I do poorly?
Dr. Steiner: No, the children are quite lively. I think that Dr. Kolisko should step in for Dr. Schubert in history for the upper three grades.
I would also like to see if Dr. Schwebsch could give a kind of aesthetics class, a class in art for the upper three grades, eighth, ninth, and tenth. Thus, we would add Dr. Schwebsch to the three main lesson teachers for the upper classes, and he would teach aesthetics. We already spoke of that to an extent. That would not continue indefinitely, but would merge into other teaching in a few weeks. The four of you would then rotate.
A teacher: That would mean that one of us would be free for a period of time.
Dr. Steiner: That does not matter since the upper grades need that. We need to speak about the foreign languages.
They discuss how to divide the modern languages.
Dr. Steiner: Dr. Schubert should take over the younger children for Latin and Greek, and I would ask Dr. Röschl to take over the remaining Latin and Greek classes. I will say something more about that later.
A teacher: Isn’t it better to place the students in Latin and Greek by class?
Dr. Steiner: With the confusion we now have, we can do that only slowly. Our goal could be to achieve some balance by the age of sixteen or seventeen. I would like to talk about that tomorrow at 2 o’clock. The teachers who are no longer responsible for Latin could help in the teachers’ library.
Today there was some talk about hiring a librarian, something I consider pure nonsense. If you work at it, you could finish the entire library. I think it would be silly. I could keep the whole thing in order with three hours a week. We need to consider how we can save some time. I think it would be a good idea if the faculty took that up. We can’t create a library and then hire a librarian who will need at least a palace. That talk is pure fantasy. Someone like Dr. R. would cost 30,000 Marks, money we could save if you would spend some of your free time in the library. I think that would be best and most efficient.
The theology course will take place in Dornach from September 26 until October 10. Hahn, Uehli, Ruhtenberg, and Mirbach will attend, and thus the independent religious instruction will not take place. We will have to teach something else in their place. It would be interesting if, for example, Dr. Schwebsch is free during that period, and if he could do something appropriate for the children concerning history or art history. It could also be something else.
I would now like to hear what else has been happening.
A teacher: What should we read in the seventh grade?
Dr. Steiner: We cannot hold the whole class back simply because there are a few new children. Those who are less advanced will not be able to read A Christmas Carol.
A new teacher: I think Dickens is much too difficult for this grade. Could we obtain a textbook for teaching language?
Dr. Steiner: I have nothing against using a textbook, but all of them are bad. The class does not have one book that unites them. Look for a textbook, and show it to me when I come back.
With regard to Dickens, I do not agree. The seventh grade can certainly read him. You could also choose some other prose, that was only given as an example. There are a number of good students’ editions. Of course, you’ll have to use something appropriate to the students’ age.
A teacher: In other schools, we began Dickens in the tenth grade.
Dr. Steiner: Find some texts you feel you can work with.
A teacher: I would be grateful if you would say something about rhythm and verse.
Dr. Steiner: It is difficult to hold a course about individual topics in teaching. Why can’t you find anything reasonable?
A teacher: I cannot say precisely.
Dr. Steiner: The children need to learn the poetic meter and rhyme that you know. They should understand the relationship of the individual meters to the pulse and breathing rhythms. That is the goal. I can hardly believe you cannot find anything. We cannot say that all books are bad. You can make them good by using them.
A teacher: I would like to ask a question about algebra. I think it would be good if we gave the children homework. It is certainly clear in this case that the children should do some problems at home.
Dr. Steiner: We need to emphasize what results from a good pedagogy. One basic principle is that we know the children do the homework, and that we never find that they do not do it. You should never give children homework unless you know they will bring the solved problems back, and that they have done them with zeal. A liveliness needs to come into the work, and we need to encourage the children so that their inner attitude is not paralyzed. For example, you should do it so that when you have covered some material, and you want to assign them some work in connection with it, you say, “Tomorrow I will do the following arithmetic operations.” Then wait and see if the children prepare the work at home. Some will be interested enough to do it and then others will become interested. You should bring it about that the children want to do what they need to do in school. What you need to do from day to day should come from what the children want to do.
A teacher: Can we also give homework such as multiplication problems and so forth?
Dr. Steiner: Only in that way. It’s the same story in the other subjects, and together we would then have a great deal of homework.We would then have pale children. Our goal must be to cover the material in such a way that we don’t need anything outside of school.
A teacher: I also wanted to ask what we could do following mathematics.
Dr. Steiner: Afterward, when the children are tired, you could go on to something simpler. You could do something like what you had originally thought of as homework.
A teacher: I have not had the impression that even the most strenuous things in mathematics tire the children.
Dr. Steiner: In spite of that, we should not keep the children under the same stress for two hours.
You could help the children or give them a hint that they should do this or that at home. But do not demand it.
A teacher: Could you give me some help in teaching aesthetics?
Dr. Steiner: These are fourteen- to sixteen-year-old children. Through examples, I would try use art itself to give them the concept of beauty. Look at the metamorphosis of beauty through the various style periods: Greek beauty, Renaissance beauty, and so forth. It is particularly important for children at that age that you bring a certain concrete form to what is otherwise abstract. If you study the aesthetics of people like Vischer and Carrière, all that is simply chaff in regard to concepts. On the other hand, you ennoble the children regarding ideals if you can give them an understanding of what is beautiful or what is great. What is comedy and how does music or poetry achieve it? The child’s soul cannot take in generalized concepts in this period. For that reason, at that age you must include such things as what it means to declaim and recite.
At the time when I was lecturing about declamation and recitation, I discovered that most people do not even know there is a difference. If you take the way you should speak Greek verses, then you have the archetype of reciting, because what is important is the meter, how things are extended or contracted. When the important point is the highs and lows, and that is what you need to emphasize, for instance, in The Song of the Niebelungs, then you have declamation. I showed that through an example, that there is a radical difference between the first form of Goethe’s Iphigenia, that he later reworked into a Roman form. The German Iphigenia should be declaimed and the Roman, recited.
A teacher: If we are to integrate our work with that of Dr. Schwebsch, I would like to ask approximately how much time we should allow for teaching aesthetics?
Dr. Steiner: It would be good to allow equal times. In that way, the German class would be less work.
We need to have somewhat different concepts. Think about the Austrian college preparatory schools. They have eight periods of Latin in the fifth grade. That is the result of terribly inefficient teaching. We, of course, must limit that. The Austrian schools have only very few periods of mathematics. Three in the 4th, 5th, and sixth grades and two in the seventh and eighth. If you work in these periods so that you correctly distribute the material you have to cover during the time available, the children will get the most from your instruction. These are children of fifteen or sixteen years of age.
Thus, in geometry, if you can see that the children have the basic concepts, including the law of duality and perspective geometry, so that the children are perplexed and amazed and have some interest in what you say about some of the figures, then you will have achieved everything that you can.
Have you begun with descriptive geometry yet?
A teacher: I have done the constructions with a point and a line, Cavalieri’s perspective and shadow construction, so that the children have an idea of them. Now we are only doing shadow construction. Then, we will do technical drawing. We have done relatively little of that.
Dr. Steiner: Then, you should do mechanical drawing including trajectory, simple machines, and trigonometry. Trajectory is better if you treat it with equations. Do the children understand parabolic equations? If you develop concrete examples, then you do not need to go into detail there. From a pedagogical perspective, the whole treatment of a trajectory is only so that the children learn parabolic equations and understand parabolas. The coinciding of reality with mathematical equations is the goal you need to strive for.
“Philosophy begins with awe,” is partially incorrect. In teaching, awe must come at the end of a block, whereas in philosophy, it is at the beginning. You need to direct the children toward having awe. They need something that will completely occupy them. They need to understand that it is something that, in the presence of its greatness, even Novalis would fall to his knees.
I would particularly like to remind all of you who are involved with drawing to study Baravalle’s dissertation thoroughly. I have attempted to mention it several times. Copies were available at the conference. Baravalle’s dissertation is extremely important for aesthetics. You should all study it. Baravalle’s dissertation could have a very deep effect, particularly in the handwork class. There is certainly a great deal in it that would help in understanding how a collar or a belt should be shaped.
Things like this from Baravalle — now don’t let this go to your head — things like this dissertation have a fundamental importance for Waldorf teachers, since they show how to pictorially present mathematical ideas and thus make them easier. That is something we could extend. What he has done for forms could be done in a similar way for colors or even tone. You could find a number of helpful ideas about Goethe’s thoughts about the world of tone in my last volume of the Kürschner edition. The table contained there is very informative. Certainly the theory of color could be treated in the same way.
A teacher: It may be possible to create a parallel in the moral and perceptible side of tones. Color perception follows the order of the spectrum. Everything in the blue range corresponds to sharps, and the remainder, to flats.
Dr. Steiner: That would be an interesting topic.
A teacher: In looking at both spectra, there is a certain parallel between them.
Dr. Steiner: The thought is nearly correct, but we must avoid simple analogies.
I would like to say something more that will hopefully strike an anthroposophical chord with you. I said that it would be a good idea to study Baravalle’s dissertation. I would like to mention that there is an occult significance in enlivening instruction when a lively interest exists for the work done by members of the faculty.
This is extremely important. The entire faculty is enlivened when you take an interest in some original work by a colleague. That is also a basic thought of many of the various school programs, but it has been corrupted. Each year discussion of the program should be published, but the whole faculty should be concerned with it. The fact is that the spiritual forces within the faculty carry the faculty through a communal inner experience. We should not try to do things individually, the whole should participate. Of course, here, through lively presentation, there is a significant general interest. However, there is an assumption that many others are also hiding their work. I would like to remind you to make that work fruitful for others as well.
A teacher: Sometime ago we spoke about a gymnastics teacher.
Dr. Steiner: Mr. Baumann told me we could no longer consider the business regarding a gymnastics teacher because we have no rooms. When we have room, then Englert will be here.
A teacher: He wrote that he could not do that. He is now in Norway.
Dr. Steiner: We haven’t the slightest need in the next half-year. He will need to wait until something else occurs. We will need to make an effort that the boys get better. We cannot say anything about gymnastics since Baumann is not here.They discuss the public conference in Stuttgart from August 29 until September 6, “Cultural Perspectives of the Anthroposophical Movement.”
Dr. Steiner: The conference was such a success that it far exceeded our expectations. It was really quite a success. Only the members’ meeting on Sunday, September 4, was poor. It was the worst thing imaginable. The meeting of the local threefold groups was still worse. I had thought that just those people would bring new life into Anthroposophy. We should have been able to see that on Sunday. You can be certain that a great deal was wanted. People were sitting in all the corners having small meetings, but the whole was lost. It would have been better had it all been visible at the surface. Hopefully, further development will be better.